I was trained as a teacher over 30 years ago, we were taught that students did
best with a sticker chart on their desk. The student would need to get a sticker from the teacher to indicate good work. I remember
how quickly this system failed with most of the students in my classes, yet I quickly became interested in those students who were able to self-motivate so as to achieve
This year we are working with a social emotional program called 'Play is the way' - a course written by Wilson McCaskill. He recently published an article on his website around the use of rewards as a motivator as opposed to self-evaluation which is a powerful form of intrinsic motivation. He argues that many people will ask the question, “What's in it for me?” before putting effort into any task presented to them and this is the challenge for students at school. For students who are excited and engaged whilst learning, the reward is the learning, but others need the sticker chart or some form of extrinsic motivation to keep them on task. According to Wilson, the answer lies in training students to self-reflect and ask the questions, “Have I tried my hardest? / Is my work the best it can be? Could I have given more effort to this task?” These questions help students to see the learning process not as something we do to acquire some form of reward, but something we do to grow as a person. I recommend this article to you:
As with all things in education, we need to strive for balance. Keeping a sticker or star chart whilst working towards a large goal is exciting and a visual motivation for children, so don't throw them out entirely. Do however, as Wilson says, teach children to self-reflect and to seek intrinsic motivation as this is a really powerful strategy that will have a life-long positive effect.
Head of Campus, Early &Junior Years